QUERY WEEK! And…Question of the Week: When Were You Ready For Querying?

5 Feb

So, next week is going to be pretty special…want to know why? Because it’s QUERY WEEK!

Monday, Sarah J. Maas will discuss her querying experience for QUEEN OF GLASS, and what made it successful (or not); Wednesday, Savannah Foley will be doing the same for her ANTEBELLUM query; and Friday, Mandy Hubbard—YA author extraordinaire and literary agency intern—will be analyzing their queries from an agent’s POV.

But what’s the purpose of all this?

To help you. To learn from our mistakes—and our achievements. To get a sense for what works, and what doesn’t work. To know what catches an agent’s eye, or what repels them.

We hope you’ll join us!

And, in honor of Query Week, this week’s QotW is:

When did you realize you were ready for querying?

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I THOUGHT I was ready for querying in 2005, when I finished my first ever full-length novel. Naturally, I sent queries out immediately. At the time I thought revising/polishing meant running spell check andmoving a few periods around. I’d done that, so I thought I was all set. I queried twelve agents and wrote their names on a single piece of paper, tacking it above my computer on a cork board.

Turns out publishing is a little harder than that. 😉 It wasn’t until 2006 that I had a book that was truly ready.

The Writer with a Book on Shelves

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I realized I was ready to querying in the summer of 2008. I had met my fiance, Chris, in April that year, and we were already pretty serious and knew that one day we would be married.  Therefore, we needed to prepare for this future together and upgrade our jobs (at the time I was working at a Cashier in a garden nursery called the Enchanted Forrest).

I got a job as an Administrative Assistant, and Chris also got a better job as a programmer. I figured that with all the positive changes I was making in my life, it was time to get serious about getting a literary agent. I was 18, and it had always been my goal to be published while still a teenager, and time was running out. Therefore, I began doing what I had put off for so many years: researching and learning about agents and the process it takes to get one. I discovered agentquery.com and basically used that site as my guide for the entire process. I submitted tons of queries and by December 2008 I was signed with the Bradford Literary Agency.

The Writer Also Waiting on Submissions

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I’m not querying yet, but I hope to in about a year or so. I feel like I’ll make the decision while looking through all the drafts and revisions, getting annoyed and impatient, and finally just taking the leap. If only school didn’t take up so much time…

The Writer Revising Her First Novel

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My manuscript wasn’t “perfect”. I knew I could improve the novel by holding onto it for fifty more years. But I reached a point where I was just exhausted after a year and a half of revising. That was when, one night, out of the blue, I decided to begin querying. I switched on the lamp and began writing out the rough draft of my query letter. I thought it was awesome! Mandy Hubbard, our dear published YA author, reviewed my query letter and gave me some nice critiques on how to improve it. Agented writer, Sarah Maas, then contacted me and offered to help me out. I’ll just say one thing–The first draft and the final draft ended up being completely different.

The Writer Who Got Two Partial Requests

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To be honest, I’m not sure when I want to query. I’m currently editing the first draft of my novel and suspect it will need to go through many, many, many other drafts and editing.

The Writer Who Finished Her First Novel

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I knew before I finished writing QUEEN OF GLASS that I wanted to query agents—but I also knew that QoG needed at least two rounds of heavy revising before I could begin. Turns out, I needed at least five rounds of revising.. But with each passing round, I knew the manuscript was growing stronger and stronger, and after the last major revision (the one that took the manuscript from 240k words to 140k words), I knew I was getting close. A few smaller rounds of editing later, I wrote my query. I think—after a certain point—you just know it’s ready. But it also helps to have some great feedback from critique partners—who will often give you a good sense of whether or not it’s ready.

The Writer Waiting on Submissions

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Thanks so much for stopping by–and don’t forget to check back on Monday to kick off QUERY WEEK!!!!

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13 Responses to “QUERY WEEK! And…Question of the Week: When Were You Ready For Querying?”

  1. priscillashay February 5, 2010 at 12:20 AM #

    hmm…I’m fall somewhere between Biljana and Rachel. I “finished” my first novel…in the sense it has a beginning, middle, and end. I’m trying to clean it up/revise…but, I don’t know when I want to start querying. Although, I’m hoping for the end of the summer or the end of the year 🙂

    So, I’ll be looking forward to all of next week’s posts!!! ^_^

    • svonnah February 5, 2010 at 4:49 PM #

      I think you’ll know when you’re ready. Either you’ll have looked over your manuscript so many times your eyeballs are bleeding or you will have an innate feeling that you’re ready for that commitment at this time in your life. Best of luck!

  2. Allie February 5, 2010 at 11:47 AM #

    I finished my novel before I queried, but got incredibly valuable advice from a friend during the query process, put everything on hold and did some rewriting. I think it’s great to realize that querying doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop thinking about ways to improve the book and move on to something else. It’s a part of the process.

    • svonnah February 5, 2010 at 4:51 PM #

      Excellent point! I don’t think people talk about that nearly enough. Writers are always making changes after getting feedback from agents, and even once you have an agent chances are you’ll make tons more changes!

  3. Crissy Rose February 5, 2010 at 4:43 PM #

    I wish I could have published something in my teens. I just never got serious about it. I’m halfway through 19 now so there’s no way it’ll be done, but it would have been nice. :[

    I don’t know how anyone gets any writing done in college, aside from what’s required for school. It’s pretty crazy how much work I get.

    Hopefully I’ll get off my lazy butt soon and make use of whatever little free time I have ;P

    • svonnah February 5, 2010 at 4:53 PM #

      Writing in college is pretty tough, no doubt. I’m working 40 hours a week and living on my own now, and I just don’t have the free time to really get around to writing. Plus, the internet is so distracting!

      The way I figured it is that I had my agent when I was 19, so that totally counts. If you started querying now I’m sure you could totally count that, too 🙂

      • Crissy Rose February 7, 2010 at 9:02 AM #

        Haha thanks! You guys are a real inspiration. This blog is a great idea.

  4. Rowenna February 5, 2010 at 6:41 PM #

    When the thought of printing one more draft made me sad about the trees rather than hopeful about the improvements I could make, I knew there wasn’t much left to scrape out of the MS. Query writing began then hehe.

    • Savannah February 5, 2010 at 8:22 PM #

      What an interesting perspective!

  5. Kim February 5, 2010 at 11:08 PM #

    I think the little things inspire me to write. Like the trailer for Gentlemen Broncos, or Nerdfighter talk, even seeing what’s on fictionpress, but definitely LTWF Blogs. All this talk and chit-chat about publishing novels and rewrites makes me want write, especially when I’m feeling hopeless and annoyed at myself. Thanks guys! 😀

    • Sarah J. Maas February 7, 2010 at 9:34 AM #

      Thank you so much!!! 😀 That’s such a wonderful thing to hear!!!!

  6. Rosie February 7, 2010 at 5:37 PM #

    Hey, still loving the blog but wanted to mention a couple of websites you may or may not have heard of. http://www.lovereading.co.uk is a really good website that recommends books to read and lets you read opening extracts (i know it is a uk site but i still think it is a useful site, and there is the same site for childrens books if you want YA reccomendations) and they have just started a sister website called http://www.lovewriting.co.uk where they are helping people self publish and then promoting their novels. Thought it might be interesting for you guys to look at 🙂 I will definately be checking in this week to read about querying!

    Rosie
    x

    • junebugger February 7, 2010 at 11:27 PM #

      Thanks! The link sounds interesting. I’m going to check it out.

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